We departed Montserrat early and said adios to Spain so we could make our way north into France, with our next destination in Lourdes.
Along the way, to my great delight, our route took us through the tiny country of Andorra. Andorra is a little kingdom that sits in the Pyrenees mountains along the border of France and Spain. It is the sixth smallest country in Europe, and is known as a tourism spot today, with plenty of shopping centers and ski resorts.
To our great surprise, as we made our way higher in the mountains of Andorra, we started to encounter snow. By the time we stopped for lunch there, it was a full on snow storm, with snow accumulating all over. Some of us took a lot of joy from the snow, and more than a few snowballs were thrown.
After lunch we continued on our way into France, and made it to Lourdes a little after 5pm. At this point we said goodbye to our bus driver Jose, who was leaving to go back home to Portugal after he dropped off us. Jose was both friendly and professional and took good care of us so far, so we made sure to show him our appreciation.
We had enough time to drop our stuff at our hotel, and made the 5 minute walk to the basilica of Our Lady of Lourdes, built right at the site of the apparition. We celebrated the Mass of Our Lady of Lourdes in the chapel of St. Gabriel.
After Mass, Msgr. Trapp gave us an overview of the area and told us about how the Blessed Mother appeared to St. Bernadette. From there, we went back to the hotel to get situated in our rooms and have dinner.
We were given the option to return to the basilica for the 9pm rosary procession, which a number of us decided to do. It was a beautiful experience, with thousands of people participating. The rosary was prayed in a number of different languages, and everyone was carrying a candle. After each decade of the rosary, everyone sang a marian hymn to the tune of “Immaculate Mary”. During the “Ave Maria” part, everyone raises their candle into the air in honor of Our Lady. It was beautiful to see so many people share their devotion to our Blessed Mother this way.
We are at Lourdes for the next few days, so we’ll talk more of our experiences in the upcoming blog entries.